Scroll through ‘pages’ of a cookbook with your fingertip
For all those who favor electronic devices over frayed cookbooks and clippings, download the Globe's new 'Sunday Supper & More' e-book
When it’s time to chop and saute and do all the prep that any recipe requires, many home cooks ditch their dog-eared cookbooks and files of clipped recipes in favor of electronic devices. Even while they’re in the supermarket, cooks can download a recipe, look up a side dish, and get a shopping list. At home, with a fingertip, the cook scrolls through the “pages’’ of recipes and photographs, and later, after dinner, when the dishwasher has been loaded, wipes down the screen so it looks new again. In some kitchens, books are less and less welcome.
So it seemed a natural evolution to take an immensely popular column in the Food section and turn it into an e-cookbook. The Globe launches “Sunday Supper & More’’ as an e-book this week, with 26 recipes for the spring table, photographs of each dish, shopping lists, pantry staples, and cooking tips.
In Sunday Supper & More, written by several Food section contributors, we offer a dish for Sunday night with enough food to make another dish several nights later, or a few lunches to take to work. First-day dishes are often very simple; second-day meals are a matter of assembly.
We often hear from readers that they regularly cook out of the column and we know why: You cook once and get a lot - and the second dish isn’t anything like the first. The supper you make the first day sometimes has a dressed-up element, so if you’re having company, you can feel good about what you’re serving. Supper the next day isn’t so much eating leftovers as it is enjoying a makeover. Think of it as repurposing ingredients to come up with a dish different in the way it looks and tastes.
This system isn’t just the way we do the column, it’s the way we cook. And it’s a kitchen system that many good cooks utilize. The history of cooking is replete with a repertoire intended to do just this: Eat well one day and turn that food into something else. It’s long been the tradition of housewives around the world, the territory of the French bonne femme (“thrifty housewife’’). In Asia, these women learned to use leftover rice and vegetables to make delicious variations on fried rice, bits of rich meats were tucked inside dumplings. In southern Europe vegetables and eggs in a skillet turn into crisp frittatas and tortillas, beans and greens become hearty soups, mashed potatoes and savory mixtures take on another life in crisp croquettes and fritters.
You need a small repertoire of techniques to begin doing this instinctively, as you decide what you want to make the first day and what the possibilities are for the second. When we assemble these tag-team Sunday Supper meals, we think about it the way we imagine musicians write songs. Which comes first, they’re often asked, the music or the lyrics? Sometimes we come up with a pairing because we love the second recipe and need the ingredients from the first in order to pull it off. Sometimes the main dish is a seasonal favorite that we’re making for a holiday or celebration.
Think of the two recipes as modules. Begin with Meal 1.0 and morph it into Meal 2.0. We look to other cultures for ideas, so 2.0 might become a pasta sauce, hash, taco, wrap, or stuffed bun. We buy pizza dough for pies but tend to avoid pastry for the second day because we think that you, like us, are in a rush to get supper on the table (think of all those savory tarts we’re missing!). Your pantry is well stocked with good oils and vinegars, dried beans, pasta, rice, bread, canned tomatoes, and chicken stock. A quick soup or stew doesn’t require a trip to the market.
With that in mind, we offer two spring meals to add to your repertoire. In this region, spring can bring chilly, wet weather or glorious sunshine. We’re hoping for the sun, so this is a leaner take on 1.0. Saute boneless chicken breasts and garnish them with lots of bright vegetables: asparagus, edamame, peas, leeks, and carrots. You could add green peas or sugar snap peas. The sauce is made from deglazing the pan, and to thicken it, whisk in a little “kneaded butter,’’ made by mashing butter and flour into a paste. When it goes into the sauce it thickens it slightly, which is all you really want here.
Set aside some breast meat for 2.0, a chicken salad with spring greens, in which slices of poultry sit on crisp frisee greens, basil leaves, spinach, and mesclun lettuces, topped with sliced cherry tomatoes, Armenian or English cucumbers, and a mustardy vinaigrette.
The bonne femme tradition is not just thrifty, it’s efficient. You make an effort on Sunday and then open the fridge on a weeknight and have components to build 2.0. Grab a few basics from the pantry and head to the stove with confidence.